Ex Machina Athens, Seeking Oedipus

Review in Issue 21-2 | Summer 2009

Mimefest have always been very responsible in giving even-handed coverage to ‘traditional’ forms of visual theatre and innovations in form. Seeking Oedipus falls almost too firmly into the former category. The lead actor and artistic director of the company, Aspasia Kralli, studied at the Marcel Marceau school of mimodrama and she is channelling her pedagogue here. The mime language of the piece is detailed and literal, acting out, beat by beat, the two-sided A4 narrative we are presented with in our programmes. There is precision here: the physical language of emotion is closely drawn, but with the story already in our hands, its re-presentation in mime added nothing; the performance became of merely decorative interest, if anything rendering the nuanced emotions described in the text more crudely. Moreover, for the company to feel we would be unable to infer any of the content from the performance itself, to my mind represents a significant failure.

The steeply raked staging, which allowed for a highly suggestive curtained opening slit up its centre, and the pleasing reveal of the Sphinx, otherwise functioned largely as a barrier to movement. Sequences of active physical interplay, such as the fight between Oedipus and his father, and the labyrinth sequence (hilariously, whose every wall was desperately mimed out) were squashed into the forestage. In the closing sequences a slightly different language seemed to be emerging, with the throwing of cloths suggestive of plague and war outside the palace gates, however this felt more like a shortage of resources rather than a genuine turn to the dramaturgy.

There was little dynamism and less drama in this piece: it served as an example of why artistic forms retain their vitality only through continual evolution.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2009

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-2
p. 28